2019 Winner, Magdalena Aguayo Literacy Champion Award | John Hickenlooper

Governor John Hickenlooper has been an exceptional advocate for the Reach Out and Read Colorado program. His dedication to the mission of Reach Out and Read Colorado as Mayor of Denver and Governor of Colorado and his promotion of early literacy has been an incredibly powerful catalyst for our statewide impact. Governor Hickenlooper has sent a strong message to the entire state that early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make to ensure Colorado’s kids are competitive and prepared for the future.  

During Reach Out and Read Colorado’s Annual Benefit Breakfast, he explained, “Reading is one of the best activities there is to facilitate brain development. That is why it is so important that we work together to put Colorado’s children on an early path to reading and success in school.”

During the 2012 Colorado Legislative Session, Governor Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Read Act, further demonstrating his commitment to early education and Colorado’s youngest residents. The Colorado Read Act focuses on K-3 students who are struggling with reading proficiency. The legislative act includes requirements for parent communication and enhanced funding to support intervention.  

Governor Hickenlooper has a personal connection to early literacy explaining, “I am a huge supporter of reading aloud and early learning, and I saw that first hand when raising my son Teddy.”

Governor Hickenlooper has also supported the organization by proclaiming October 6, 2015, and October 2, 2018, Reach Out and Read Colorado Days! Over the last several years, he played an instrumental part in the success of Reach Out and Read Colorado’s annual benefit breakfasts starting with readings of Green Eggs and Ham and later evolving into enlivening performances of Dr. Seuss parodies. His enthusiasm and sincere support of Reach Out and Read Colorado are notable.

As Mayor of Denver, and then as Governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper’s administrations launched Preschool One Book and then One Book Colorado. One Book Colorado, which is now a statewide effort to provide 75,000 Colorado four-year-olds with a no cost, high-quality book voted on by the community via libraries, and other community settings, including Reach Out and Read Colorado clinics.

We applaud Governor Hickenlooper’s effort to improve child health and education outcomes in the state of Colorado. In 2006, Hickenlooper helped raised awareness for Preschool Matters, currently known as the Denver Preschool Program (DPP). His visionary leadership played a vital role in the successful campaign to fund the Denver Preschool Program via a sales tax increase. The Denver Preschool Program has become a model for the country on how to promote program quality and increase preschool enrollment.

Reach Out and Read Colorado, and the state of Colorado, are lucky to have such a dedicated and effective advocate of early literacy promotion. Thank you, former Governor Hickenlooper!

About the Magdalena Aguayo Literacy Champion Award

Magdalena Aguayo Literacy Champion Award is an honor presented at each Statewide Conference by Reach Out and Read Colorado to recognize a person, program or community partner that has strongly supported the mission of Reach Out and Read in Colorado and has made extraordinary efforts to ensure that their community benefits from the great work they do to support this cause. The award is named in honor of Magdalena Aguayo, an Outstanding Site Coordinator at the Denver Health Westside Clinic for a number of years who truly exemplified what it means to support early childhood literacy development through the Reach Out and Read Model.

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